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01-17-18 11:12 PM
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LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-17-16 07:49 PM (rev. 6 of 09-18-16 03:24 PM) Link | #77563
Unlike global warming, I think the whole issue on genetically modified foods is more muddled and confused. While global warming toes on party lines and more people, I think, are accepting the scientific consensus, people seem to be a little more hesitant when it comes to GMOs. If you do a quick search on "scientific consensus on gmo", which I did, you'll find several articles claiming otherwise. The ENSSER article seems well-written and pretty convincing, but ENSSER is not a scientific organization. It is a public outreach group that has no influence on science organizations. Whereas virtually all every major scientific regulatory oversight scientific organizations have positions in favor of GMOs and this blog post explains well about scientific consensus and its stance on GMOs. The American Association for the Advancement of Science's stance is below.

"The EU, for example, has invested more than €300 million in research on the biosafety of GMOs. Its recent report states: "The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies." The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques."


It's very similar to the consensus on global warming.

One thing, there are people who do agree a consensus exists, but they still think it's a conspiracy or some sort of group think when a scientific consensus doesn't work that way. Additionally, if you go against the consensus, you need high-quality data and good reasoning, such as scientific plausibility. Galileo had that when he went against church dogma. Others like Alfred Wegner were ridiculed, but eventually, more data was accumulated and his continental drift became the new consensus. A theory is only as good as its data, and GMO safety has a ton of good studies showing its safety. This then leads to the consensus by major international scientific bodies.

GMO support and opposition is not restricted by political lines, with left-wingers such as Bernie Sanders supporting for GMO labeling and nutty Greenpeace and Foodbabe and right-wingers such as Alex Jones going conspiracy-insane. I myself used to be a little more skeptical of GMOs, particularly that there is concern they'll leak into the environment. I'm not afraid of GMOs, though. I opposed labeling GMOs in the past simply because I think it's a waste of energy and money that could be used for providing more useful labels like appropriate serving sizes, trans fat, and removing shoddy bait-and-switch product claims (such as advertising fat-free but the product is jacked on sugar).

A lot of the anti-GMO movement is rooted in pseudoscience and has parallels if not ties to other pseudo-scientific movements such as anti-vaccination and global warming denialism. As in the blog post, the people against GMOs usually do not have the appropriate scientific credentials to back up their claims. The blog post also notes how, as in the anti-vaccine movement, people who dissent from the anti-GMO stance are usually told to leave because they are "disrespectful". Sure, the blogger himself is an oncologist, but he is a researcher and a well-informed skeptic and he acknowledges his limits. The people in the anti-GMO movement usually don't. The studies that seem to show harm by GMOs are usually poor quality. This blog post by the oncologist, offers a detailed debunking of that study. The data is sloppy, not even a veterinarian pathologist examined the pictures, the researchers used the wrong statistical analysis, and the scoring system is not standard and subject to bias. That's a summary, but I believe it's worth a read. Unfortunately, there aren't any really high-quality studies that do show GMOs to be dangerous or at least raise a question mark on their safety.

Some facts
Genetically engineering is just a quicker, cleaner version of conventional cross-breeding
Both processes involve targeting a desired genetic trait. While conventional breeding achieve this by breeding from generation to generation, genetic engineering uses DNA recombination to isolate specific genetic traits. Genetic engineering does not require sexually compatible partners, it is much more precise than conventional breeding, and it speeds up selecting preferable genetic traits considerably. These traits created by genetic engineering can technically (but unlikely) occur in nature, but it would involve millions of years and tons of generations for it to appear.

Due to the messiness of conventional breeding, it is far more likely that conventional breeding will have more unexpected outcomes, such as allergies, compared to DNA recombination.

Genetic engineering can be beneficial for the environment and humanity
In 2002, the Zambian government had let people starve from crop failure due to their refusal to accept food aid because of GMs. Genetic engineering can biofortify foods with essential nutrients, such as Golden Rice, which was created to address Vitamin A deficiency. Crops engineered to be glyphosate (i.e. synthetic herbicide; Roundup) tolerant have a net benefit of requiring significantly less tillage (which means less erosion and less of a chance the herbicide, will enter water supply). Glyphosate is highly toxic to plants, but is not very toxic to humans. In LD50, it is only slightly more toxic than alcohol, but twenty times less toxic than caffeine.

Various crops are bred to contain a toxin (Bt) that kills insects that consumes them. This is beneficial for the environment because it kills only the targeted insect and requires much less pesticide to be sprayed on them. Reducing pesticide spraying can then help lower emissions. This meta analysis in PLOS concludes that "GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%."

Note that organic methods (which forbid genetically modified crops) of growing crops is less efficient than conventional. Therefore, more land is required to grow organic crops, more pesticides (natural and some synthetic ones including the highly toxic copper sulfate), and more resources are spent. This is especially true for oilseed, cereals, and vegetables. Think about that when organic is constantly peddled as "good" and "environmental".

Common arguments against GMOs
Studies / scientists are funded by Monsanto
This is a very common argument to make. The studies that show GMO safety are usually accused of conflicts with interest with Monsanto. People that advocate GMO safety are also often labeled as Monsanto shills too. It is also a very common argument made by promoters of alternative medicine. As stated, multitudes of sources do show GMO safety. It is also an ad hominem attack with little substance and contributes nothing to the debate. This gambit is often invoked even in areas where Monsanto has little to do with it, such as discussion of the chemical makeup of high-fructose corn syrup or something like morgellons disease.

Anti-GMO activists like to point out that Monsanto has a monopoly on patented seeds. Ironically, however, this has happened because of them. Pressure from these groups led to really tight regulation and hefty bureaucracy on GM crops, making it difficult for other groups to place their products into the seed marketplace. One example: Golden Rice.

GMOs have no independent testing
Part of this concern is legit. Manufacturers of GM crops are allowed to test their products for toxicity and allergins, with FDA oversight, which can raise questions on the integrity of the safety of these foods. However, independent testing on GMOs is allowed. Biology Fortified has compiled a list of studies on GMOs with independent funding. Furthermore, crops produced by nonGM means are also not subject to this regulation, so it's meaningless trying to draw a conclusion relative to nonGM crops on safety testing.

GMOs can cross-pollinate and contaminate
The fear of cross-pollination and contaminating the environment is another legit concern. Starlink corn with the Bt trait, for instance, was allowed in animal feed, but not human consumption, yet Cry9C were found in products fit for human consumption. Still, this problem can also happen with crops created via nonGM means. As with the previous argument, when it comes to genetics, breeding and induced mutation are pretty much the same as genetic engineering. This isn't a problem unique to GM crops.

One solution is to introduce technology that sterilizes the seeds after a generation, but ironically, anti-GMO opposition has prevented it from becoming a thing. This is mainly out of unfounded fears with patented seeds (which isn't new to Monsanto and has been here since the early 1900's). As with Monsanto's monopoly, this is another problem with GMOs that is unwittingly created by anti-GMO activists. With the recent acquisition by Bayer, it'll get even worse, but the environment for competitive GM seed sellers is very hostile to begin with.

GMOs reduce biodiversity
Again, not a problem restricted to GM crops. Conventional breeding can produce more varieties of a crop and therefore make them more robust to possible diseases in the future. Here, restrictions on GM technology is again propagating this problem.

GMOs can kill bees
Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) crops aren't linked to colony disorders. Bt toxins are meant to reduce the imidacloprid pesticide, which are toxic to bees. Finally, the Bt toxin isn't restricted to GM crops.

A few things about Monsanto
I'm not a Monsanto supporter.

I do, however, think that Monsanto is treated as a bogeyman. It does engage in several real problems (including illegal waste dumping), but those are overlooked and not unique to Monsanto. Stuff that are alleged to be unique to Monsanto turn out to be false. This includes the legal situation involving Percy Schmeiser. Here, Percy Schmeiser is at fault here by knowingly infringing on the patent of Roundup Ready seeds. Also, Monsanto is pretty transparent about its public activities, like it's aware of its terrible public image. Compare that to Whole Foods, which is considered an organic bastion, in that link provided.

I'm not a scientist, only a layperson, so I have to rely on blog posts by those more trained in the field that can simplify and summarize studies on GMOs they've seen. I'm convinced that GM crops are safe, beneficial even, and the restrictions imposed on it by a scared public influenced by bad studies and fearmongering are the real issues here. I think Genetic Literacy Project is an excellent resource on information for GMOs.

I've also been to anti-GMO sites. This one by the non-GMO project for instance has information, but I looked at the citations. One of them is the infamously anti-science The Huffington Post, and the article itself doesn't really show evidence that farmers had their fields mistakenly contaminated with crops of the RoundUp strain and are unknowingly using them, letting Monsanto sue them for patent violation. I don't think there have been any cases where activists can successfully demonstrate with evidence. The site also tries poisoning the well by linking Agent Orange with Monsanto. If you don't know what Agent Orange is, it is an infamous means of herbicidal warfare during the Vietnam War. Monsanto manufactured an herbicide called 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, the combination giving the Vietnamese horrific health effects. Eventually, Monsanto was painted as evil so it couldn't be trusted. What actually happened was that Monsanto warned the government that the 2,4,5-T was contaminated with TCDD (an unavoidable byproduct of its manufacturing), but government acted anyway. On the other hand, the site mentions 2,4-D, which is relatively nontoxic and still in use worldwide, so the association of that and Agent Orange is a bit... weird and even disingenuous, like saying "oh, they use water and water was a component that was used in Agent Orange". Otherwise, I don't see how the Agent Orange affiliation has to do with anything other than poisoning the well.

I've been to Consumer Reports too. Unfortunately, they seem to be against GMOs and for GMO labeling. They argue that consumers have the right to know, but I think that's a dogwhistle for letting anti-GMO activists get a platform to rail against science. They try to weave doubt with statements like "saying there’s no evidence of harm isn’t the same as saying they’ve been proved safe." but they don't understand the language of science, statistics, and probabilities. You don't ever accept the null hypothesis; you either reject or do not reject. If there are hundreds of high-quality studies that show no harm, then it is reasonable to conclude that there is no harm. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence. It's the same language anti-vaxxers use; vaccines have a small chance of having a complication, so according to anti-vaxxers, they should not be used, while the anti-vaxxers completely disregard the bigger picture of letting diseases incapacitate, if not kill people, especially children. They also invoke the question of food testing, but I've said earlier in this thread that crops bred through nonGM means don't have these regulations either. They also argue that "opposition to GMO labeling comes from GMO seed manufacturers and the food industry". That's true, but the argument that GMO labeling is not based on science and is akin to an anti-science trojan horse is valid. They discuss about pesticide use, but the increasing herbicide resistance isn't a GMO problem, it's the improper use of herbicides.

I've looked at http://www.gmo-foods.com/. Seems insane to me.

Looked at http://responsibletechnology.org/10-Reasons-to-Avoid-GMOs/. Seems insane too. Vague about its claims and uses emotional language rather than reasoning. Uses anecdotes. Claims like "By mixing genes from totally unrelated species, genetic engineering unleashes a host of unpredictable side effects." are very dubious since conventional breeding also "mixes genes", maybe not from totally unrelated species, but the general idea is the same and on a molecular level, it's no different. Conventional breeding is less predictable than genetic engineering.

A pro-GMO site http://factsaboutgmos.org/. Website doesn't look great and it's not as comprehensive as Genetic Literacy Project. Probably a site on outreach rather than research.

StapleButter
Posted on 09-17-16 07:54 PM Link | #77565
I didn't read all of it, but here's what I think about it.


We have to cooperate with the nature. Introducing modified species to work around natural issues and increase productivity may break the ecosystem balance.

I also don't like the idea of consuming a product of the industry as opposed to something natural.

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LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-17-16 08:39 PM Link | #77569
You'll have to read the thread.

It's important to know that there is no hard-defined line between "natural" and "artificial". On the genetic level, there is no difference between a genetically engineered organism and one produced from selectional breeding. What genetic engineering does is to simply isolate a genetic trait

Nature is very messy. It's bound to be because that's how natural selection works. Plants in their natural state can contain very beneficial compounds to treat diseases. The problem is that they might also contain very toxic compounds in there too. Pharmacology arose to isolate these compounds so they can be studied. The good ones eventually are purified and they become medicine. It's like sorting the clean stuff from the muck. And since there are a lot of herbs out there, there are many compounds that aren't very well-studied, so taking herbs is like medicine Russian roulette.

Genetic engineering is sort of the same. Genetic traits from historical cross-breeding can be very variable, with mixed traits from both parents usually. Genetic engineering is usually very specific with what traits it selects. You can also control it via sterilizing seeds the next generation so it cannot get out of hand if it contacts the wild environment around it, but as I said, people don't like that.

Also, synthetic stuff created might actually be beneficial with nature (not saying it's perfect). It fixes problems that the original compounds may have. For instance, a lot of natural pesticides / fertilizers can be highly toxic to a lot of animals or they don't break down quickly in soil. There are synthetic pesticides that are designed to break down easily in the soil, for instance.

So, genetic engineering CAN be used to cooperate with nature while also benefiting humanity. As discussed, you can increase crop yields while requiring less lands with the right GM technology, so GM foods can be a real boon to humanity.

There are issues on herbicide resistance, which is a real problem with GMOs, though the big picture is herbicide use, since nonGM crops do have this problem too.

Marionumber1
Posted on 09-17-16 10:06 PM Link | #77570
I'm in full agreement with you on GMOs. It's depressing to see so many people on the left, who are usually spot-on, fall prey to science denialism. While I sympathize with the mistrust of corporations that fuels anti-GMO sentiment, science should still be the ultimate authority.

As an aside, though, I take issue with your disparaging use of the word "conspiracy". There are plenty of crazy conspiracy theories and theorists, but at its purest form, a conspiracy theory is an application of skepticism. Turning conspiracy theories into something automatically negative has the effect of marginalizing rational skeptics. Election fraud, for instance, was dismissed by the media and Hillary supporters as a "conspiracy theory", two words that simply ended the debate in most people's eyes. And plenty of things were "conspiracy theories" before being proven true: Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the NSA spying on us come to mind.

MercuryPenny
Posted on 09-17-16 10:35 PM (rev. 2 of 09-17-16 10:39 PM) Link | #77571
it feels like genetic engineering could easily end up being another method of reducing the quality of food to produce more of it and reduce the cost of production. white bread in particular comes to mind, but ground beef is frequently watered down, and high fructose corn syrup has pretty much replaced sugar entirely as a sweetener.

it could have legitimate applications; in fact, it probably does. but i have my doubts regarding what it will actually be used for.


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LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-17-16 11:56 PM Link | #77572
Posted by Marionumber1
As an aside, though, I take issue with your disparaging use of the word "conspiracy". There are plenty of crazy conspiracy theories and theorists, but at its purest form, a conspiracy theory is an application of skepticism. Turning conspiracy theories into something automatically negative has the effect of marginalizing rational skeptics. Election fraud, for instance, was dismissed by the media and Hillary supporters as a "conspiracy theory", two words that simply ended the debate in most people's eyes. And plenty of things were "conspiracy theories" before being proven true: Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the NSA spying on us come to mind.

I don't think I really meant that labeling conspiracy means dismissal despite the language of my post, but within the context of GMOs, there are a lot of disingenuous allegations of conspiracy or hidden conflicts of interest by Monsanto or Big Agriculture to cover up evidence that GMs are harming the environment.

If I were to post all of this as a comment on anti-GMO sites, people would label me as a Monsanto shill, someone who has stocks in Monsanto or is personally paid by them. These accusations happen all the time, even when the subject has only barely something to do with Monsanto. Extremists can take it a step further by repeatedly harassing researchers, digging into their personal life to find any barely relevant interactions with Monsanto, and revealing their personal information while slandering them. Kevin Folta in particular was pelted with so many FOIA requests by USRTK and had to face several personal threats against him and his family. It's not restricted to Folta either.

I'm most disparaging of conspiracy when there is no evidence. Real conspiracies would be oil industry firms paying "experts" to sow doubt in climate change (revealed pretty recently via Exxon's coverups, even when Exxon's own studies show climate change as reality), the Patriot Act, governments deliberately under estimating causality tolls, and Hillary Clinton's handling of this election.

Posted by MercuryPenny
it feels like genetic engineering could easily end up being another method of reducing the quality of food to produce more of it and reduce the cost of production. white bread in particular comes to mind, but ground beef is frequently watered down, and high fructose corn syrup has pretty much replaced sugar entirely as a sweetener.

it could have legitimate applications; in fact, it probably does. but i have my doubts regarding what it will actually be used for.

Perhaps. Technology can be abused, but when it's used properly, it has a lot of benefits. Genetic engineering on crops is already in use right now and we rely quite a lot on it. Genetic engineering can even save lives by addressing vitamin deficiency. See Golden rice. As stated in the opening post, GM crops can be bred to resist glyphosate which is important to keep pesticide usage down. In the future, we can develop drought-resistant crops to help cope with global warming. I believe there are more ways we can use genetic engineering to our advantage, so call me optimistic.

Marionumber1
Posted on 09-18-16 12:19 AM Link | #77574
Posted by LeftyGreenMario
If I were to post all of this as a comment on anti-GMO sites, people would label me as a Monsanto shill, someone who has stocks in Monsanto or is personally paid by them. These accusations happen all the time, even when the subject has only barely something to do with Monsanto. Extremists can take it a step further by repeatedly harassing researchers, digging into their personal life to find any barely relevant interactions with Monsanto, and revealing their personal information while slandering them. Kevin Folta in particular was pelted with so many FOIA requests by USRTK and had to face several personal threats against him and his family. It's not restricted to Folta either.


It's always telling when people have to resort to calling you a shill, rather than refuting your point directly. When it's just that, shill accusations seem amusing, but trying to dox and harass people is clearly taking it way too far.

I'm most disparaging of conspiracy when there is no evidence. Real conspiracies would be oil industry firms paying "experts" to sow doubt in climate change (revealed pretty recently via Exxon's coverups, even when Exxon's own studies show climate change as reality), the Patriot Act, governments deliberately under estimating causality tolls, and Hillary Clinton's handling of this election.


We seem to be on the same page, then. I may end up making a new thread to discuss conspiracy theories, though, since it could be interesting to see people's views on them.

LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-18-16 01:13 AM Link | #77575
I hope no one thinks that accusing of shills will be reduced to dismissal of an argument, though. The global warming debate, for instance, does have actual paid "experts" to try to contest global warming. Andrew Wakefield, the guy behind the whole scare on vaccines and autism, also has evidence of a major conflict of evidence (trying to market a vaccine and got paid by lawyers to perform a study) and several ethical breaches (taking blood samples from children). There is also an alleged CDC coverup on vaccinations, though Hooker botched his statistical analysis, and even after statistical noise is accounted for, there is nothing telling about that. The biggest difference is where the evidence lies, especially when it comes to high-quality independent research. You can't call people shills if you don't have evidence to back it up. Even if you do prove a conflict of interest, the actual research also needs to be successfully disputed. This didn't happen with global warming, vaccination, or genetically engineered food. A high-quality study is a high-quality study. It doesn't matter where it came from as long as long as independent repeats of this study are done well and supports or contradicts the study.

Hiccup
Posted on 09-18-16 04:57 AM (rev. 2 of 09-18-16 04:57 AM) Link | #77577
I think GMOs are just fine if used properly, but should still be labelled. What do you know of the situation of plant additives such as "chemical" fertilizers, my lord and master LeftyGreenMario? :P

LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-18-16 02:57 PM Link | #77588
I don't think GMOs should be subjected to labeling. If they were labeled, it would place a negative stigma on them and it would give a platform for anti-GMO activists to march on and continue sullying GMOs for unscientific reasons. Labeling GMOs just isn't based on science and telling consumers "they have a right to know" is just code for what they really think: GMOs are nasty frankensteins and we shouldn't play with god and we shouldn't support Monsanto blah blah blah. They don't really care about informing consumers about the scientific consensus or telling them that all major international scientific regulatory organizations say that GMOs are safe (or at least as risky as organisms bred via nonGM means). Organic crap already costs more and the whole organic movement isn't based on science whatsoever (even if some methods are superior to conventional farming). It grew to be an industry complex consisting of powerful corporations that try really hard to conjure a green pasture image.

On the subject of plant fertilizers, keep in mind, on a molecular level, something that is created via synthetic or occurs naturally is identical. People like to think natural / organic fertilizers are safer / healthier / more sustainable / genuine when the reality is that it's way more complex. For instance p-Hydroxybenzyl acetone sounds dangerous, but it's the same as raspberry ketone. Didn't stop a company from not selling it though because they "want to be safe" even if there are literally zero differences. Anyhow, organic fertilizers have less nutrients than synthetic, but they do improve the soil texture, so in the long run, they seem to be a better option. In the problem of fertilizers in general, such as runoff, accumulation of cadmium, and soil acidification, I can't pinpoint if it's synthetic or natural or just fertilizer abuse in general.

Baby Luigi
Posted on 09-18-16 03:50 PM Link | #77592
Labeling foods with something that should be known as safe is akin to labeling foods that say that they are handled by black people, or that there are no razor blades inside the package. The fact, is 80% of our food supply contains at least one ingredient that came from a crop that has a genetically modified organism in it. The soda you're drinking, the corn syrup, the nuts you ate, the soybean oil, etc. those are all highly likely to be already genetically modified. Our food supply has been like this for a pretty large while, and there has been next to no damaging effects on how huge our food supply is and how much genetically modified foods we all consume on a daily basis.

As for studies that do show the damages of genetically modified food, chances are, scientists have breeded GMOs that have that selected trait in the first place; observing damages caused by a trait that was specifically designed to be damaging shows that the experiment was a success to see, what if we breed organisms to have that disease?

Hiccup
Posted on 09-18-16 07:15 PM Link | #77603
You both seem to have good points - I take back my comment on the need to label things as being GM.

Isaac
Posted on 09-23-16 10:43 PM Link | #77892
I actually dont care if my tomatoes are genetically or pure they haven't killed me yet.
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MusiMasta
Posted on 09-23-16 11:31 PM Link | #77901
Somewhere I read how GMO foods could cause cancer or at least increase the chances of it. Dunno if that is true or not however, but I still sorta avoid GMO foods for that reason.

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LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-24-16 02:55 PM Link | #77928
It's probably a poor quality and / or low tier animal study or some misconstrued language like "it's a class 2B carcinogen" so they think it's bad even though coffee and bananas are, like, in the same class if not higher. Either way, it's not true. The scientific consensus is clear that GMOs are safe (in cautious sciencey-language, it's "just as dangerous as eating foods that are bred through conventional nonGM means; i.e. 'normal' foods").

Baby Luigi
Posted on 09-24-16 11:01 PM Link | #77969
Posted by MusiMasta
Somewhere I read how GMO foods could cause cancer or at least increase the chances of it. Dunno if that is true or not however, but I still sorta avoid GMO foods for that reason.


Usually, when animals get conditions from GMOs, those GMOs were bred to give the animals said conditions in the first place.

LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 09-26-16 06:13 PM Link | #78005
And, if you take that pig study (mentioned in the OP) into account, the pigs fed nonGMO grain also developed illnesses. There are hundreds of other problems with that pig study (such as not consulting the appropriate veterinarian and being affected by viewer bias when evaluating photos of pig stomachs), but that's one notable problem.

LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 06-02-17 04:55 PM (rev. 2 of 06-02-17 04:57 PM) Link | #83494
For those still in doubt about GMOs, this is a good read.

https://thelogicofscience.com/2017/05/23/anti-vaccers-climate-change-deniers-and-anti-gmo-activists-are-all-the-same/

The only way you can understand is if you read the post. You can't apply different standards to different subjects. Global warming, vaccinations, and GMOs all have mountains of evidence supporting them with fringe groups denying it; i.e. you can't accept global warming due to its mountains of evidence but then accuse mountains of studies that purports GMF safety relative to conventional foods of being largely funded by business giants like Monsanto.

You can also check this link by the same author. The labels "toxin" (not relevant here) "organic", "natural", and even "GMO" are often vague and arbitrarily defined, so often meaningless.

https://thelogicofscience.com/2016/08/16/4-meaningless-words-toxin-natural-organic-and-gmo/

Also, this will help too



As the video said, GMOs can be an extremely valuable ally in the fight for preserving the environment. I like the emphasize one point in the video

That's one of the most fundamental problems with the GMO debate: Much of the criticism of this technology is actually criticism of modern agriculture and the business practice of the huge corporations that control our food supply.


In other words, the problems of GMOs isn't the GMOs themselves and it isn't restricted to GMOs.

StapleButter
Posted on 06-02-17 04:57 PM Link | #83496
I agree with the quote there.

I'm still not sure that introducing modified species within our ecosystem is a good idea, especially given our current understanding of genetics. Modifications are closer to attempts at wizardry than educated work.

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LeftyGreenMario
Posted on 06-02-17 05:02 PM Link | #83497
Again, read the post. Also, we've been modifying organisms for generations. The apples, watermelons, and corn we've been eating resemble very little to their wild, original counterparts. Also, this stuff we're doing IS educated work, I believe.

Moving beyond the arbitrariness of what is natural, the typical definition of “found in nature” doesn’t apply to some things that most people would intuitively think of as natural. Take apples, for example. They’re natural, right? Not so much. The fruit that we know as an apple does not grow in nature. As I will talk about more later, essentially all of our crops have been modified by thousands of years of careful breeding, so, technically speaking, they aren’t natural.


---

Another quote. I'll bold for emphasis.

GMO stands for “Genetically Modified Organism,” and you may think that this has a very clear and precise definition…but it really doesn’t. Before reading the rest of this, try to come up with a definition of it yourself, then see how that definition holds up.

The most general line of thought would be that a GMO is exactly what is says: “an organism whose genes have been altered,” but that definition is much too broad. Every living organism has a genetic code that has been altered from its ancestral state by millions of years of evolution. If you really think about it, we are all just heavily modified cyanobacteria (cyanobacteria [or some similar organisms] where most likely the first living cells).

Now you may think that I am stretching things a bit here, and perhaps I am, but “nature” does all sorts of crazy things like hybridizing species (as plants do frequently) and even stealing the DNA from one organism and inserting it into the genetic code of another. For example, at some point in the evolution of the sweet potato, it managed to modify its genetic code by inserting bacterial genes into its DNA. In other words, it is a transgenic species whose genetic code is a combination of the genes of several species. Shouldn’t that make it a GMO? Further, this is not limited to sweet potatoes, because bacteria themselves are well known for their ability to incorporate the DNA of other species into their own genomes. So nature is constantly doing the types of things that most people would associate with GMOs, and foods like sweet potatoes really are transgenic species.

[image]
The corn that we eat is quite different from wild corn (teosinte). Our crops have been genetically modified via thousands of years of careful breeding, and the fruits, vegetables, and animals that we eat today contain novel genetic codes that are not found in nature. Image via mentalfloss.com.

Nevertheless, you can try to qualify the term GMO by saying that GMOs are, “organisms that have been genetically modified by humans,” but that definition is also fraught with problems. Beyond the fact that it is totally arbitrary (see the “natural” section), it also would encompass all modern agriculture. Those delicious fruits that you know as watermelons don’t exist in nature (at least not in their current form). Similarly, natural bananas are small and full of giant seeds, and wild corn does not produce those nice juicy husks that you slather in butter and salt. Both our livestock and crops have been genetically modified through years selective breeding, and they contain genetic codes that aren’t found in nature.

At this point, people often try to add something about moving genes between species, but that just creates more problems. First, I’ve already shown that nature does that as well, so we have to keep that arbitrary “man did it” qualifier. Second, that would also include lots of “non-GMO” crops such as pluots, plumcots, tangelos, etc. all of which are hybrids that used selective breeding to combine the DNA of two different species. Third, this definition does not include all of the crops that are typically described as “GMOs.” Indeed, GMOs that take the DNA of one organism and put it into another (a.k.a. transgenic GMOs) are actually only one type of GMO. There are others that simply modify the existing genome (i.e., they activate, deactivate, or alter genes that are already present).

Given the problems with that definition, you might try defining a GMO as an organism that is “modified by humans via a method other than selective breeding,” but that definition includes mutation breeding, which is typically not considered to be a GMO. This method uses chemicals or UV radiation to randomly mutate organisms’ DNA in order to produce new and useful traits (i.e., it makes genetic modifications via inducing mutations). However, this method typically does not receive the label “GMO,” and in some cases, even farms that label themselves as “organic” can us crops that were produced by this method.

This leaves us with the outrageous definition that a GMO is, “an organism whose DNA was modified by humans via a method other than selective breeding or mutation breeding,” but at that point we have tacked so many arbitrary qualifiers onto the term, that the term itself is essentially meaningless. To put this another way, our “non-GMO” agricultural practices constantly make genetic modifications, including swapping genes between species and randomly mutating DNA, and the techniques that we label as “genetic engineering” are only different in that they are faster and more precise than the other methods. Therefore, there is no good reason to talk about GMOs as if they are fundamentally different than the other methods, because the definition of a GMO is completely arbitrary.

Note: You may be tempted to say that a GMO is simply, “an organism that was produced by genetic engineering” but that doesn’t really solve the problem, because you then need a non-arbitrary definition for GE which excludes mutation breeding, selective breeding, and what happens in nature, without excluding any crops that are typically thought of as GMOs. So you still have the exact same problem.


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